Martin Bright

Is Jenny Tonge really sorry?

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So Nick Clegg has acted against Jihad Jenny Tonge following her statement to the Jewish Chronicle that there should be an inquiry into stories that the Israeli army was harvesting organs in Haiti.

But by removing her as health spokesperson in the Lords without removing the Lib Dem whip, he may just be prolonging the agony.

If he had hoped to draw a line under the affair, it seems that Baroness Tonge has other ideas. She has already given an interview to the Iranian state TV channel Press TV, which appears to back the idea that she was pushed out by the "Zionist lobby". [N.B. The Baroness's interview with Lauren Booth looks like it was recorded in early February, but the remarks were picked up by Press TV and reported after she was sacked as a post hoc justification for her actions. MB 17/02/10].

This morning the channel's website has gone a step further in an editorial by Kian Mokhtari backing Tonge and repeating the ridiculous claim that "overwhelming evidence on organ theft by mafia style gangs within the Israeli army had surfaced earlier".

Mokhtari is not the clearest of writers but I think we understand what he means when he writes:

"All over the world we use almost without thinking phrases carefully manicured to vilify decency by media organizations whose private backers prefer to stay in the shadows; much like the rabbis in New York who did a roaring trade in stolen Palestinian organs from behind the scene.

The humanitarian Baroness Tonge should not only hold her tongue but hold on to her tongue given the Israeli Organ shenanigans."

I think Mr Mokhtari has to get the record for the number of versions of the blood libel in one article.

I wonder what Press TV defenders (stand up Andrew Gilligan, George Galloway, Lauren Booth, Yvonne Ridley) have to say about this piece of invective.

Nick Clegg's office made it clear last week that Jenny Tonge was sorry for any offence caused and did not believe the Israeli army has been harvesting organ. Indeed, she praised the work of the IDF in Hati.

So in what way is this a Zionist conspiracy? The Jewish Chronicle printed the words of her statement and, as a result, Nick Clegg fired her.

Instead of demonstrating that she was sorry, she has chosen to speak to the most anti-semitic TV station currently broadcasting in the UK. [Again, she appears to have done the interview before she was sacked, so apologies for the confusion. Perhaps she will now go on Press TV to express her deep regret at the remarks. MB 17/02/10]

There is an excellent round-up of the reaction in support of Tonge from "habibi" at Harry's Place and another from the Jewish Chronicle's Jessica Elgot. This includes the pick-up from LibDem Voice, also quoted by the Jerusalem Post, where Deborah Fink expresses her anger at the treatment of the Baronesss. Fink helpfully includes an email from the peer: "Palestine Telegraph last week had a long piece by a Jewish American on the subject of organ donation–not an editorial piece. It said there were postings on U Tube [sic] about organ harvesting in Haiti by the large team sent out by Israel to help! JC asked for a comment, as I am a patron of the Palestine Telegraph. I actually congratulated Israel for their prompt response to the disaster and said that if allegations were being made they should conduct an inquiry to dispel any rumours. It is quite ludicrous –organs would be useless in that situation anyway and it is a nonsense suggestion."

I can only assume that Baroness Tonge is heading for further discipliary action from the Lid Dem leadership. But then she did say she wanted to be a martyr.